I do like to be beside the seaside

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Capstone Parade

Capstone Parade

By the early 20th century, thousands of people were leaving the grime of Welsh mining villages and the hustle and bustle of industrial towns like Birmingham to spend a few days experiencing a completely different lifestyle by the sea.

It is often cold and windy in Ilfracombe and the seas on that coast can be rough and grey but so much effort was put into providing amusing and diverting activities for visitors that their short breaks passed all too quickly. Walks, day trips, bathing  and sight-seeing were interspersed with the ample and regular meals provided in all the boarding establishments of the town.

 

 

 

It was Ilfracombe's proud boast that Robert Martin was the only mounted Town Crier in the country. Originally from Crediton, Robert had worked on a farm just outside Ilfracombe before serving in the 17th Lancers. His day job was furniture-making but each evening in the holiday season, he would ride around the town past all the hotels and boarding houses, pausing to call out details of trips and attractions for the following day.

Robert Morton - Town Crier

Robert Morton - Town Crier

 

Setting out on a coach trip

Setting out on a coach trip

Ilfracombe had some most enterprising local photographers. Each morning they visited all the departure points of the various trips on offer and photographed the holiday-makers before they set out. On their return, their photograph, developed and printed, was presented to them on postcards, ready to send home to friends and family.

It is very hilly around Ilfracombe and the men and children would have been expected to dismount and walk up the hills to "save the horses". They also walked down steep downward slopes - the only brakes on the coach consisted of a metal "shoe" which the coachman, from time to time, dragged under the wheel nearest to him!

 

Embarking on PS Britannia

The enterprising photographer strikes again! These happy trippers are just about to set out on a famous paddle steamer - the Britannia. This vessel, built in 1896, was owned by P and A Campbell and worked the Bristol to Ilfracombe run for most of her career.

Embarking on PS Britannia

She served in World War 1 as HMS Briton and in World War 2 as HMS Skiddaw, assisting in the Normandy landings. She made her last voyage in 1956.

 

Back to Issue 13

 

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  Last modified:
30/09/2005